June 15 Update

Dear all, as promised, here is a quick update. Quick, because there isn’t a huge deal to update.

Anna and I went to see Mr Khoubehi this afternoon. He was pleased by how quickly and well his cutting is healing, pronounced what he accomplished inside as a success and reassured me that on-going tiredness, itchy stomach etc is all par for the course this soon after major open surgery.

On the other hand, histology of the dratted kidney confirms that I have Grade 4 Cancer, the most aggressive kind (this is relative, however, because Grade 4 kc is not as aggressive as G4 lung cancer would be.) Given we knew of its migration to the lymph glands and each lung, this wasn’t a great surprise, though of course one hopes for something lesser.

So there is little to add until next Monday 22nd when we have the first meeting with the oncologist. We should then have a clearer idea of when the next, all-important, CT scan is going to be (it’s apparently too soon after the operation to do one for the moment.) In turn, we should also have a better idea of if and when the ‘biological therapies’ will commence. My sense is there won’t be any very concrete news for a few weeks more since it is apparently unlikely that I’ll start ‘biots’ unless and until it’s been established that the lungs lesions have grown etc.

Morale continues good and I am getting to spend lots of time with family and friends. People comment that I look well, even tanned – the result, no doubt, of exposing the scars to the 2 hours uv radiation we have had since June 01. Brother Ames and I had a lovely 4-day break in Broadstairs, courtesy of Pia, who lent us her cottage. Ames took the opportunity to pen further scurrilous tales of his sibling’s quirks and eccentricities. Fortunately I control what goes on this blog. There is a fab Grayson Perry show on at the Turner Gallery in Margate, well worth a day-trip down from London if you like his stuff or are interested in ‘Englishness’ – a moot subject in UKIP-land! I also sat in the very shelter where Eliot composed the first lines of what became the ‘Fire Sermon’ section of The Waste Land (On Margate Sands / I can connect / Nothing with Nothing.’ A perfect riposte to King Lear’s claim that: ‘Nothing will come of Nothing.’ (not sure if I’ve rendered the caps correctly, but this isn’t going to be marked).

Broadstairs swell: lashed to the mast :-)
Broadstairs swell: lashed to the mast 🙂

It’s just great to be catching up with friends again. One or two at a time is all I can manage for the moment, but I’d love to see one and all if you can give me a little notice of when / if you want to come. I can happily manage lunch / tea out round Clapham Junction; and tomorrow will be having my first evening out in more than 5 weeks at a preview at Shoreditch Town Hall which I am really looking forward to.

Finally some good news, too, about my memoir. It’s been short-listed for the PEN prize for autobiography / memoir. See, if interested,


That’s all for now, folks. Next Monday I hope to report not only on the next medical meeting, but Maddy’s birthday party this coming Saturday. She is very excited about becoming the same age as her daddy – four (see earlier post!). And she has begun to show an amazing capacity for tact. When Anna asked her recently if she (Anna) was getting bigger because of Luke, Maddy responded: ‘Don’t worry, Mummy, your head is the same size as before.’ 🙂

xx Bart

Ames in typical day-time pose, thinking up further scurrilous tales
Ames in typical day-time mode, exhausted by composition of further scurrilous tales

3 thoughts on “June 15 Update”

  1. Dear Bart,

    Huge congratulations on the PEN shortlisting!

    I’m being worn down by excessive watering in the Fleming Garden owing to the lack of proper rain: nevertheless the weeds are thriving in the “Ornamental Garden”, which, this time last year, was still covered with a tarpaulin. So once again I’ve simply made more work for myself. And Sarah keeps dragging me to Somerset every other weekend to help sort out the “new house” in Watchet. So I’m feeling the time-pressure for the next few weeks, before Sarah and I can finally relax during a trip to France 4-12 July. After that, I’ll contact you about dropping by Dorothy Road sometime.

    And I was glad to read, at the end, that Ames’ composition was a deliberate pastiche of something: but it read far more like Edward Gibbon on LSD than anything you’ve ever written. Very tedious, but apparently meant to be so. If Ames’ is offended by this comment, I’ll happily apologise when I have the chance to meet him.




  2. Hi Bart, great to read your latest post. This cancer doesn’t look brilliant but you seem to be pretty chipper. All quiet on the Oxford front although not on the Greek one! I came back from there on 2/6 and although things seem ok on the surface – still plenty of people in tavernas, large newish cars on the road, etc – when you speak to people they are full of gloom. Apparently young educated folks are leaving in droves. I am preparing to wave good bye to my Greek pension. It was great while it lasted. Haven’t seen your friend Mary lately; hope she’s ok. Sarah seems quite happy in her job – makes a change. My Isabelle has managed to slot back into her highly paid but boring job at the European patent office in the Hague after a 2-year swan ending on a coral island in Indonesia where I visited her (Gili). Freddie seems to be adapting to permanent unemployment from what I can gather from sporadic emails. So all fine here! Yrs Peter Sent from Yahoo! Mail for Windows 8


  3. Fantastic news on the PEN shortlisting. So well deserved Bart.
    Thank you for your update. Your resilience is truly inspiring. One thought ( forgive me I love to play medic) re your fatigue. I assume your blood tests are thoroughly looked after but just make sure your iron levels are fine. I have recently found out there are numerous tests involving iron having rather relied on just one. The transferrin saturation level is one to look out for and the one test I missed. Sounds pompous but check with your GP/ consultant/ dietician knowledgeable in your cause. It goes without saying that your fatigue is obvious given the bodily trauma suffered by you but it doesn’t have to be exacerbated by low iron stores. Funny, but I was instructed to eat more red meat by a consultant who was exasperated by the common habit this century of cutting it out! Apparently even 100g of Steak does not fulfill the daily iron requirements. 40g of grape nuts apparently does although who could eat that much in one sitting. I also understand that iron from meat is more readily absorbed. Of course my research is cobbled together from the web with no professional methodology whatsoever but it is however interesting to get a vague idea of what essential nutritional requirements look like in domestic quantities. I suppose I should mention at this juncture that too much iron is also bad which is why blood test monitoring is so crucial. Thanks to your previous blogs I am now a big fan of wheatgrass (33mg iron per 100g stated in “typical” nutritional values on the back of my Naturya pack). I defy you to swallow 100g!
    Keep up the R&R and may you have positive news on 22nd.
    p.s no comment on the Magna Carta? You must be feeling better.
    Amanda S


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